Social media is a tremendously beneficial new technology that will forever change many aspects of our business and personal lives. But few people really understand how it works. Here’s a simple way to understand its power and influence.

Say you want to take a swim, but have no pool and only one litre of water. Here’s how you do it without social media:

You begin by shopping around. You search all over web, look in the yellow pages and make telephone calls, ask your friends for referrals and drive around visiting a number of different suppliers. Since this is such a significant purchase, you devote weeks of your time, money and energy searching until you finally find the one you like and can afford.

Now it needs to be delivered.

You arrange for delivery of the pool. A truck drives from the supplier to your home and drops off the materials.

Now it needs to be installed.

Depending on the style of pool, your installers must have a certain level of expertise to complete the job. This process can take a few days or a few weeks, and is not cheap. But they come everyday and finish the job and now you have your pool.

Now it needs to be filled.

You could fill it yourself with a hose, but that would probably be a strain on your water resources. It could mean running the well dry, or putting a lot of strain on your municipal water supply (and a lot of strain on your wallet). You could also have the water delivered, which though more convenient, would nonetheless not be cheap. You decide what’s best for you, get the pool filled, and you’re ready to swim.

Hopefully you know how to swim. If not, you have to learn, which involves time, lessons, driving, scheduling, etc…

Now you have to maintain the pool and water.

You have to buy kits to make sure the PH is balanced, purchase chemicals, do testing, keep it clean, etc. You may have to hire cleaners and testers if you can’t do it yourself. More cost. More hassle. Less time doing what you wanted to do in the first place: swim.

Here’s a better solution, courtesy of social media:

You sign up with a community of 10,000 other people just like you who have only one litre of water but want to swim. This community provides for you a pool already built and filled, and experts who perform all the maintenance and upkeep. The only catch is that everyone in the group has to contribute their one litre of water to the pool, and pay a small service fee to those who built and maintain the pool (which, because so many people are involved, is very low).

This is a great solution because now everybody gets to swim without any lost time, hassle, running around and expenses! Not only that, but the expert swimmers help out the intermediate swimmers, and the intermediate ones help out the beginners.

It’s the power of collaboration. It’s social media, and it works.